Vowing to create a fair playing field while protecting existing taxi companies, downtown Ald. Scott Resnick, a candidate for mayor, has released details of an ordinance to allow Uber, Lyft and other ride services to operate legally in Madison.
Most significantly, Resnick wants to drop the city requirement that all taxi services operate 24/7, a rule long considered a regulatory roadblock to independent drivers and transportation network companies, or TNCs. That category includes Uber and Lyft, companies that employ drivers who use their own cars with rides coordinated via mobile app.
Instead, the ordinance will require at least one taxi company to provide 24/7 service.
If no companies comply, a daily after-hour surcharge is assessed to every company to help subsidize future 24/7 service, although Resnick says testimony from the taxi cab companies and industry experts suggests 24/7 service for the entire city will continue.
“My ordinance provides an opportunity for TNCs to legally operate in Madison, while reflecting our community's values and the input of stakeholders,” Resnick says in an email Tuesday.
Other details of the Resnick ordinance, which will be introduced to the Madison Transit and Parking Commission subcommittee this week:
• Drivers will be licensed by the city and required to follow the same background check procedures as all taxi drivers.
• Vehicles must be deemed safe to operate by a third party and meet clean emissions standards.
• Consumer protections will be upheld and drivers must follow strict anti-discrimination policies. Services must cover the entire city and strict reporting will be required to ensure every neighborhood is actually being served.
• TNCs are forbidden from operating at taxi stands or taking street hails.
• TNCs and drivers must provide insurance, including $1 million in coverage while servicing passengers. This is modeled from an ordinance recently passed in Minneapolis
Milwaukee, Chicago and Minneapolis have all passed regulations recently for TNCs, but Resnick says his proposal is crafted specifically for Madison and includes “the strongest language on the books in the Midwest.”
Resnick claims his plan is much stronger than Milwaukee’s, which includes no provisions to license TNCs and no requirements they serve the entire city.
“While this may work for Milwaukee, it is not acceptable for Madison,” Resnick says.
But Jason Glomp, president of Union Cab in Madison, says the ordinance doesn't provide enough details on the insurance piece. He also says lifting the 24/7 requirement is a mistake in a city without 24-hour bus service.
"The real question is why is the city going to all of this trouble of trying to regulate companies that have shown no interest complying with existing regulations over the last five months?" he says. "Why they feel the need to push out small local business at any cost is still a mystery to me."
Resnick notes that the Transit and Parking Commission subcommittee will continue to review the ordinance and provide a final recommendation to the full commission and City Council later this summer.
“At this time, I am inviting feedback from all stakeholders who are interested in the debate,” says Resnick, who works in the information technology industry as vice president of Hardin Design and Development.
Mayor Paul Soglin has said he is working on his own ordinance for TNCs but has yet to release the details.